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Reflections on a Great #NASSP16

I'd like to reflect on the time I spent at the National Association of Secondary School Principals conference in Orlando, Florida.

I'm sharing my notes below but I first want to say that the best part of my experience down there was meeting all these people that I have been following online for so many years. Seriously, I can't say enough how amazing it was to make those in-person connections. Meeting Will Parker and Glenn Robbins and Bill Ziegler was just awesome. These guys are Giants to me, and it was so great to meet them and see who they are as humans, in person. It is so great. I also met people that I hadn't followed that I will start following because they were amazing.

People talk about how powerful Twitter (and other social media) is and how worthwhile it is to use. I've been using Twitter since 2007, and have gone through phases of engagement with it. I have learned, however, that Twitter really can be incredibly beneficial. The importance of connecting with people is incredible. It is not just about being ON Twitter, or lurking on Twitter. It is really about connecting with people.

The power of the connection is that you learn how to appreciate the other people, how to learn from them, and how to know how to help them. I'm so glad that I have been on Twitter, and I am sure that I have grown more through those connections than any other professional development I have experienced. I'm lumping my podcast into this because I would not have the idea, success or opportunity to do the podcast if not for my connections on Twitter.

My notes below are largely unedited. Be sure to follow the podcast to hear more interviews coming up from people I met there at the conference. Go here to listen to my interview with Todd Whitaker and Rick Wormeli. It was awesome.


Mental Health Issues

  • Overreact, undersensationalize
  • Mark Sullivan

School Showcase

  • Assistant Principal of Student services
  • Why did you give it that title?
  • Lunch period and special breakfasts.
  • Eagles Eye newsletter with new student interviews
  • Freshman stay for extra 25 minutes each day to get extra supports
  • What is the ACCESS program and what have you learned from it?
  • - why do you focus on mindfulness?
  • RENEW Tier 3 student-centered SEL program - visualization mapping process
  • Yes AND…the power of this thinking?
  • Yes but... regarding FedEx?
  • Innovation incubator
  • Apply to be part of it.
  • Design thinking process—empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, refine
  • Innovation class period - how does that work for credit?
  • How do you give freedom to teachers to be creative?
  • Good ideas come from everywhere. Steven Johnson—Where Good Ideas Come From.
  • Chance favors the connected mind. Chance favors the connected school.


  • Care - Advisory - 1 teacher 20 kids
  • PTC done through Advisory teacher. Kids can go to advisor to work with the teacher they are struggling with.
  • Homework is a legacy app in schools.
  • I teach the kids [subject]
  • How do you define inquiry? Purposeful Curiosity, Gerad Carrier
  • What changes when you help students develop their skill of inquiry?
  • With inquiry, it becomes more student-directed and less dependent on the teacher.
  • Assessment becomes more difficult. Control becomes more difficult.
  • Be willing to challenge the quiet classroom.
  • Personalized is when kids have real skin in the game?
  • Subject matters by Harvey Danielson
  • Reading scores improve because kids are reading deeply in every area.
  • TO meet the standards, you have to be a thoughtful curriculum planner.
  • Engagement is the wrong goal.
  • Empowered is better
  • Deep inquiry enhances care, compassion and empathy
  • We teach less stuff at SLA, but kids learn more.
  • Inquiry isn't us asking kids questions we know the answers to.
  • Inquiry is scary when we get a blank page. Starting can be scary.
  • Group collaboration guidelines can include firing a group member.
  • SLA Dell partnership to support
  • Important to front load the inquiry (structure and procedures) to make sure kids have skills to figure things out.
  • 9th grade teachers spend more time on process than content than any other grade.
  • Rather than have teacher's aide help grade papers and make copies, have the teaching assistant work with a teacher to really be a teacher assistant.
  • Fears associated with Inquiry-based learning?
  • What the worst outcome of your best idea?
  • What else changes at your school when you become inquiry based?
  • School schedule mod time with the principal from Missouri
  • Stop calling it a technology project, it is called a school.
  • Technology in an inquiry school is ubiquitous, invisible and necessary.

Daisy Dyer Duerr Link for BYOD agreement in their school. Rural schools that are doing awesome things.

Questions for podcast: * Why go BYOD and not buy tools for the few students you have? * How is BYOD different from 1:1 initiatives in terms of instruction? Do you focus less on teaching tools and more on teaching concepts? * Poverty is obviously a big issue in Rural Education. * Talk about PRMB - Flex mod schedule. * How do you attract and maintain great teachers?

Janice Case

Rick and Todd

  • Anytime I can make the faculty look good, do that.
  • Roland Barth - The achievement of any one school is based upon the relationship of the adults.
  • Make every decision based on your best teachers.
  • Get teachers in others' classrooms in a non-evaluative, non-judgmental things
  • Only need teachers to do two things each day: care and try.
  • Crummy teachers don't just close the door, they cover up the window
  • Ego is so tied up in what we are doing that we aren't willing to change.
  • Writing makes us more vulnerable and willing to discuss things
  • Record yourself as principal and share it with faculty.
  • The hardest person to change is the first one.
  • We have to validate those who want to intellectually engage.
  • Challenge: The other day I was sitting in my office, and I forgot what school was. I wanted to come in your classroom to see what school was like.
  • Teacher evaluation is an ongoing event, not an every 3 years issue
  • 3 goals for teacher evaluation: Reinforce good teachers, develop not so good teachers, get poor teachers out
  • The reason I try to be in classrooms as much as possible is because the good teachers like it and the poor teachers don't!
  • Don't do things that suck the life out of people.
  • Basis for being at my school: treat every person with respect and dignity.
  • Don't play it politically safe.
  • Don't ever give a student teacher to an average teacher!
  • Characterics of effective PD:
  • If teachers aren't taking control of their professional development, they aren't even treading water!
  • Send potential applicants a letter of expectations about the culture of the school.
  • Professional development just needs to be good. However it is done.
  • If teachers can be part of it, it is incredible.

Ed Leadership Sims

Experience Design: Creating experience Simulated scenarios to help faculty experience difficult situations with simulations. * Narrative Flow - Power of storytelling * Choice options - Encourage Critical thinking * Consequences - make it memorable * Scorecard Feedback - make it realistic/measurable * Narrative Feedback - repetition/memorable * Small group debriefings and opportunities to share/expand the experience/consequences * Large group debriefings to * @edleadershipsim * Brain Rules by John Medina * Sims encourage a systems thinking approach * Sims provides an opportunity to learn from failure * Sims provide experience and emotional engagement * Many things don't feel wrong until you experience them. * Any stage of person's development can take advantage of leadership simulations * The difference between games and simulations is Alternative reality and Alternate reality. * Alternate reality could be my reality - has to be relatable. * Alternative reality is fantasy. * It has to be about what was learned, not what happened. * Simulating a period of time where X learning needs will be apparent. * The only way you're going to get better at some things is by experience * Deer in the headlights is never a good idea. * Spaced Learning and Simulations

Suicide Sims

Help staff know how to communicate and deal with suicide and suicidal ideation by going through a simulation: Password ignite16

Need to support each student. Not just the at-risk students. We need to establish a mentoring program for each of our students. Mentoring from staff and peers. Everyone is a mentor.

Who could be a peer model? Ask kids, then train the kids they identify.

Blue dot program: I have a blue dot on my door that means I will drop what I am doing to talk to you.